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Prayer mounts for unreached people groups

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Carrying a basket filled with more than 700 stickers bearing the names of unreached people groups, Clark Carter left the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting ready to help take the message of Jesus Christ to the world.

Carter, a campus pastor at Charleston Southern University, plans to challenge students this fall to learn about and pray for 700 unreached people groups — and hopefully find a way to share the Gospel with them.

Carter’s attention was drawn to the International Mission Board booth while visiting the exhibit hall at the SBC annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., in June. The IMB display carried this year’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering theme, “Are we there yet?” Tan-colored stickers, each featuring one of world’s 6,400-plus unreached people groups, covered a display wall. As individuals took a sticker to pray for that people group, pictures of faces from around the globe were revealed. Each sticker represented a people group with less than a 2 percent evangelical presence, many without any Christian influence.

“I was blown away by the magnitude of it,” Carter said.

“I would have thought maybe there were 200, but 6,426 people groups?” he added. “There is a lot of work left to do.”

Looking over all of the people group names, Carter thought about the 700-plus college students who are expected to attend a campus ministry event Aug. 24.

What if every one of those students adopted a people group? he thought.

While others at the booth were looking for one or two people group stickers to take back to their churches, Carter wanted to peel off 700 of them.

“I’m just trying to get a variety,” he said as he looked over the names, grabbing one here and another there.

Carter enlisted a few IMB staff members at the booth to help him gather the names and “Getting there” journals. The journals, available for free download at imb.org/gettingthere, are designed to help individuals and their churches research and document their journey to learn more about their selected people group. Churches and individuals also are encouraged to register their selections at the website.

Before the end of the two-day SBC meeting, Carter and other Southern Baptists had peeled off more than 4,050 people group stickers.

In today’s information age, people have more tools and resources available than ever before to take the Gospel to unreached people groups, Carter later noted.

“It’s overwhelming … [but] we can do this,” he said. “You realize that they could all be reached if we got serious about reaching them with the Gospel.”

Carter hopes his students will accept the challenge.

“We hope God stirs up something in their hearts — not just hear about it but do something about it,” he said.

“We want to challenge our students and get them thinking about what life is all about — and give them a bigger picture.”

It’s a significant challenge, but it’s one that is doable for most — if not all — college campuses, said Mike Lopez, director of the IMB’s student mobilization team. Charleston Southern University, a school with a little more than 3,000 students in South Carolina, is an example of how schools of all sizes can impact the world for Christ.

“For [Charleston Southern University] to pray for 700 people groups, that’s praying for more than 10 percent of the 6,426 unreached groups,” Lopez said. “That’s pretty significant for one campus to do.

“It’s a simple way to make a lasting impact,” he said. “Everyone can do this.”

In addition to praying for unreached people groups, churches can adopt a people group by partnering with Southern Baptist missionaries and supporting them through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Cooperative Program and by filling the gap where there is no Christian presence by being a strategy coordinator to take the Gospel to an unreached people group.

For general inquiries about the “Getting There” initiative for unreached people groups, call 1-800-999-3113, option 3, or e-mail [email protected]. For information on how to involve students in prayer for unreached people groups, contact the IMB’s student mobilization team at 1-800-789-4693, option 9, or e-mail [email protected].
Alan James is a writer for the International Mission Board.

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